Design Competitions Offer Opportunities for Recognition and Connection

Despite the current state of uncertainty in our world, firms and designers should still look to design competitions for creative and professional validation, portfolio building, and community engagement. 

While it may seem like an unusual time to be entering your latest design projects into competitions—with the ongoing global pandemic profoundly changing the ways we conduct business—design competitions can be especially valuable for both you and your firm. Thought moments of celebration are being hampered across the world, firms and designers can and should still look for ways to honor achievement and gain recognition for their accomplishments.

It’s important to promote your interior design innovations in sustainability, health and safety, and accessibility—and provide your design team with a sense of validation. Your newly realized or in-progress interior design projects will be setting the tone for what we continue to build and design in a post-pandemic world.

The process of applying to a competition can be a powerful team-builder.

No matter what kind of award or competition you are applying for, there is a great deal of work to be done by everyone on your team. From organizing project information to sourcing photos and renderings, a competition application is a commitment. If you look at applying as a team exercise with team-building as an additional goal it may inspire collaboration and creativity amongst designers. Like design itself, the application process can result in the sharing of perspectives, new takes on future projects, and defining your value as a firm.

2019 IIDA Best of Asia Pacific Awards Category Winner | Restaurants, Lounges & Bars | Yanlord Health Cafe by CL3 Architects Limited | Photo by: b+m Studio, courtesy of CL3

Awards and competitions may help you achieve a promotional goal, whether you win or not.

Whether your firm is looking to attract new talent, or your team wants to take on larger-scale projects with big-name clients, placing in competitions is a great and straightforward way to show ‘em what you’ve got. Having your project highlighted as a competition winner can be a window into your design process or a way to demonstrate your firm’s strengths to an international design audience. This doesn’t necessarily mean that every competition will be what Bilboa was for Frank Gehry, but they can certainly help put you on the map in ways that internal promotion may not.

Competitions can be morale boosters and team motivators.

When you submit a design project to be considered for an award, it sends the message to your design team that their work is valued and deserves to be celebrated. At a time when workflow may be paused or future projects uncertain, the competition can reinstill excitement for the hard work and creativity within your firm. No matter what kind of work you do or what your professional end goals may be, receiving an award or accolade simply feels good and can provide a renewed sense of inspiration or affirmation.

2020 ALA/IIDA Library Interior Design Award Category Winner | Public Libraries – 30,000 sq. ft. and under | (Re)imagining The Community Library by RATIO w/ Nicole Snyder Interiors | Photo by: Gabe Border and Gibeon Photography

Winning or placing in a competition enhances your firm’s portfolio, which can potentially attract more clients.

Awards offer credibility that may be attractive to clients—especially clients who are new to the process of selecting a design firm. Placing in a competition communicates with current and future clients that your design team is organized, has excellent follow-through, communicates well, takes pride in their work, and understands their strengths. If a competition publishes winning projects in major design publications, such as when Will Ching Design Competition winner OpenUU was featured in Interior Design, this can also increase the traffic to your firm’s website and result in more interest.

Competitions connect you with the wider design community.

Many competitions and awards have both regional and international audiences and applicants, meaning that when you apply to a design competition, you become a part of a robust network of professionals and designers. Competitions allow you to indirectly become involved in associations, organizations, design publications, and other firms. At a time when social distancing is the norm, anything that meaningfully connects you with your external community is more valuable than ever.

Sign up for Designed for Excellence, the bi-weekly newsletter dedicated to IIDA competitions and awards updates, plus news on events, celebrations, and award-winning design projects. Email Clare Socker at csocker@iida.org to be added to the subscriber list.

Lead image: 47th Annual Interior Design Competition Winner | ICS kindergarten by Fun connection design | Photo by: Yue Wu, courtesy of Fun connection design

One thought on “Design Competitions Offer Opportunities for Recognition and Connection

  1. Carol R Bentel says:

    It would be great if IIDA could make a list of competitions that interior design students can submit their work to.

    Like

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